Running DevOps With A Remote Software Engineer Team
Just as Agile has gradually replaced the older Waterfall development framework, Agile itself is now undergoing a transformation. Many IT divisions are transitioning and broadening their Agile teams towards a DevOps approach, with changing roles and in many cases new or expanded ones as more and more internal ops are both conducted on and architected from the cloud.
Whether they’re keeping it exclusively in-house or using remote software engineer teams, these roles include release managers, automation architects, developer-testers, experience assurance experts, security engineers, and utility technology players who understand development and operations. Stack Overflow is full of queries about these functions, so resolving these transformations is clearly top of mind for many IT professionals.
New skills, new roles
The DevOps movement is essentially about increasing the velocity of software delivery throughout the value chain. Every role is shifting. Every IT function must be engaged earlier on in that value chain, whether it's IT operations participating in design, or testing becoming an integral part of development.
Everyone involved in DevOps needs to have a broader and deeper understanding of what they're required to achieve.
A developer is no longer just a remote software engineer responsible for committing X lines of code. They are required to understand the need, implement, test, and deploy it.
A tester is no longer responsible just to make sure the functionality is as expected. They are required to validate that the user experience of the application is working as expected under real-life conditions and on real devices and networks.
Release managers oversee the coordination, integration, and flow of development, testing, and deployment to support continuous delivery. They're focused not just on creating, but also maintaining the end-to-end application delivery tool chain.
Automation architects (or Integration Specialists) analyze, design, and implement strategies for continuous deployments while ensuring high availability on production and pre-production systems. This position is particularly important for geographically distributed organizations, and is a natural fit for using a remote software engineer team.
The experience assurance (XA) professional is a new type of control that becomes necessary when organizations embrace DevOps. QA testers are replaced by XA experts charged with ensuring that all new features and functions are released with the end user experience in mind. The current expectation for QA roles is to test functionality, but a DevOps framework also calls for UX testing as part of QA.
The security engineer in DevOps-minded shops works side by side with developers, embedding their recommendations much earlier in the process. They build security into the product at the beginning of sprints, not at the end as it’s usually been done.
Working in a DevOps framework can easily incorporate a team of remote software engineers, including developers, testers, UX designers, release managers and security engineers.
Having the right toolchain is key.
It’s not unusual to find teams working side-by-side, but separated by different tools. And when everyone is using different tools, communication between the teams can break down.
Rather than enforce a single set of tools across the entire organization, let your remote software engineer teams adopt a connected, loosely-coupled DevOps toolset that adds value by providing the necessary end-to-end communication and collaboration channels, while also integrating with the tools that the teams are already using. Integrated toolsets are often available on the cloud, for easy consumption.
These tools are integrated with each other, and fit into your existing toolset.
They can supplement your existing tool set, and help you replace them over time as your needs change.
They aggregate and present all of your life cycle and pipeline data and status, for easy tracking of progress and quality.
They support frameworks for agile and DevOps transformations.
So, what’s the ideal team structure for implementing DevOps practices?
The answer depends on a range of variables, such as the flexibility of your organization's current structure, available skills and resources, relationships between teams and team leaders, and corporate culture and politics.
In many cases, a distributed team of remote software engineers and developers adds value where an in-house team might struggle. Not being part of internal corporate politics or power struggles gives them a broader, less biased picture of DevOps requirements and innovative solutions.
DevOps is definitely a team sport, but it's still important to clearly define individual roles and responsibilities for success when working with the remote software engineer team.
Here are some recommendations:
IT manager: Build trust with counterparts on other teams; create a climate of learning and continuous improvement; delegate authority to team members
Dev manager: Build trust with Ops counterpart; bring Ops into the planning process early.
Systems engineer: Automate the things that are painful.
Quality engineer: Provide input into scale and performance; provide feedback on staging environments.
Devs: Plan for deployment as you're planning new features; get feedback from Ops and work with them on deployment process.
Regardless of your organizational structure, DevOps requires collaboration across multiple functions and shared responsibilities for ensuring the best possible quality. At Jobsity, our highly experienced remote software engineer teams are continuously trained in evolving technology best practices, and are available on demand to fulfill roles in whatever categories you may be missing. Contact us if you think we can help.
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